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Mar 13, 2014 06:27 PM

Another Wonderful Dinner at Chi Spacca

Ah, another wonderful night at one of my favorite establishments. As always, the service was impeccable, and the night was a genuine joy.

I went with my brother and cousin, one of whom is a vegetarian, making this dinner somewhat less meat-centric that my previous ones.

Interestingly enough, we were able to be accommodated even in this house of meats. They've added a preserves, and cheese section that helped a lot.

We started with the foccacia di recco, which remains possibly the best bread and cheese combination in LA. Gorgeously crispy, and flakey with that specialty cheese inside that is so magnanimously stretchy. The salt and olive oil that adorn it are the hallmarks of simplicity. My brother said, "this may be the best pizza at Mozza", haha.

We moved on to a plate of pecorino, candied walnuts, and honeycomb which comes from their own bee farm on top of the Mozza complex. The honeycomb was remarkable. Thick, tangy, saccharine...quite interesting. It was a natural pair with the semi-hard pecorino block, and the wonderful walnuts. A pretty classic cheese and nut board, but the specialty honeycomb really made it something top notch.

Next, some preserved artichokes. Very pleasant, especially with the onions. Simple, full of flavor, and just pleasant.

Then mashed potatoes. Silky smooth here. Have had them before. Possibly the best mashed potatoes in LA for a certain kind of mashed potato person. They are super simple, but the texture is like that of an ultra-thick cream as opposed to most mashed potatoes. Someone must be really mashing them for hours and hours.

Parnsip fritti were present, and were absolutely stunning. Kind of like french fries made with parnsips. They were better than pretty much any french fry I've ever had though. They had a crispiness to them, but then also that hearty root flavor as an undercurrent. Dusted with a bit of salt, and dipped into the lemon aioli they came with, they had a remarkable zing to them that was counter balanced by the earthiness of the parsnips. There was some fried sage leaves as well, which are always delicious, and added an additional "herb-y buttery" flavor. A sleeper hit for sure.

Finally, the pork loin al latte. Never had this before. Don't see it on many menus, and very very excited to try it. Have been dreaming about it for the past few nights. It's a stunning presentation, and a gorgeous rendition of pork loin. Served med-rare, the meat was perfect. But there was also a mound of fried sage adorning the pork that brought out the porcine flavors in a unique way. And then...the cheese. Yes, the pork loin is cooked in milk, the because a kind of cheese in sauce. The sauce was like crack. Savory, salty, bliss. But the cheese in it was something else. Tangy, stretchy crisped from some time in a pan in some places. It was the most unique preparation of pork loin I've probably had. So grand, so beautiful. I just don't ever seen to eat things this amazing anywhere else in LA.

We finished with the classic tiramisu. We also had a bottle of the barbera blend, which tasted great at a mere $50 for the bottle. Light, a little frizzy, with forward cherry notes. Very nice.

With the excellent selection of jazz, and perfect acoustics, it was another sublime experience at the hands of the masters.

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  1. Thank you sharing and for the detailed report.

    1. I think the pork loins are the same ones from the Tomahawk cut.

      13 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Are they? It seemed different to me.

        It's definitely sliced differently.

        Between the two it's a tough choice. The belly on the Tomahawk is awesome, and that fennel pollen rub. But the sauce on the loin, the sage, and the cheese are all amazing in their own way.

        It seems like the different cooking processes make for different textures of meat as well.

        They certainly seem unique enough. But most likely you're right.

        Wonder what they do with the belly sections of the loins they use for the loins, and not the tomahawks then?

        1. re: BacoMan

          Wonder what they do with the belly sections of the loins they use for the loins, and not the tomahawks then?

          I'm sure Nancy et al. are happy to help with that issue given all the prosciutto and pancetta the other Mozza Restaurants use.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Yeah, probably so.

            Did you know that Chi Spacca is riffing on Park's BBQ's short ribs with theirs?

            I always steered clear of them, but I just learned that at the last dinner and am really considering ordering them next time.

            Also, they took the amazing chicken diavola off the menu sadly, and replaced it with a crispy flattened chicken, that comes with mussels and fries. I am not sure how to feel about that.

            I still have to go back for the veal rack though!

            1. re: BacoMan

              Oh no. I loved that chicken diavola. I guess enough people weren't ordering it.

              1. re: omotosando

                I guess not. I always thought it was amazing chicken as well. It is surely be missed.

                1. re: omotosando

                  Pizzeria Mozza Newport has the pollo alla diavola under their Piatti section. I was actually pretty sad when they replaced the chicken with sausage, peppers, and broccoli with the alla diavola.

                  And of course at the LA branch there is always the chicken wings alla diavola which is one of my favorite al forno dishes.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    I had the chicken diavola at Mozza Newport recently and it definitely was not the same as the diavola at Chi Spacca.

                    1. re: omotosando


                      Chicken wings alla diavola it is then?

                      1. re: omotosando

                        Does Chi Spacca dining really feel like Mozza dining to everyone else?

                        i get that little inflections that mark it out as such, for example, what seems to be Mozza's signature fried sage leaves (from their Bianca pie, my personal favorite at the pizzeria). And the Pane is the same thick-cut mozza bread, except with whipped lardo, or 'njuda.

                        But overall it feels like a distinctly non-Mozza experience to me somehow.

                        The level of cooking there outshines both the pizzeria (to be expected) and the osteria to me.

                        However, I have begun to realize that I am not entirely sure how Italian of a restaurant Chi Spacca is. I guess that is largely philosophical, but, for example, their beef and bone marrow pie is lifted and modified from a cafe in Melbourne, Australia. Their short ribs are directly influenced by Park's BBQ (though rubbed in that same Mozza porcini rub on the osteria's ribeye)...Korean-Italian fusion?

                        But the menu's are in Italian.

                        Is that just what we call Cal-Italian? Or is it something else entirely?

                        1. re: BacoMan

                          Pane Bianco and salumi are from P.Mozza. I've had the lamb stracotto at P.Mozza.

                          The Korean style ribs (per Nancy, the secret is marinating in pineapple juice) and bistecca were all from the Tuscan Beef Mangiare in Famiglia dinners before Chi Spacca opened. My favorite was the whole coda alla vaccinara. If they brought that to Chi Spacca I would definitely be there!


                          1. re: Porthos

                            "Pane Bianco and salumi are from P.Mozza."


                            That is most assuredly incorrect. Chad Colby designed his own salumi program back when it was the Mozza Scuola di Pizza. He set the city standard for in-house cured meats program (the only one certified by the city of LA). And all of the salumi at Chi Spacca is taken from his personal program of in-house cured meats.

                            Or did you just mean that the Chi Spacca program supplies P.Moz now?

                            "If they brought that to Chi Spacca I would definitely be there!"

                            Have you ever been to Chi Spacca then, or you're holding for for that dish to make an appearance?

                            I'll ask about it next time I go. Maybe they'll put it on the menu.

                            1. re: BacoMan

                              Or did you just mean that the Chi Spacca program supplies P.Moz now?
                              They've been curing their own salumi and supplying the Mozzas with said cured meats long before Chi Spacca opened.

                              I don't know when they transitioned partially or entirely from Armando's salumi to Colby's in house production but it's been there for a while least a year or two before Chi Spacca opened. See my 8/25/10 post in the above link where I mentioned that they were already doing their own salumi for the pork dinners.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Yeah, sorry, I forgot, Colby's meats are specifically dry-cured.

                                Or, what is to be made of this LA Weekly article from 2012?


                                "Not only has Colby gone through the laborious process of actually making the prosciutto, speck, coppa, pancetta and Parking Lot Capocollo (Colby has a garden in a patio over the actual Mozza parking lot) himself, but he's also jumped through the seemingly endless Health Department hoops required. Thus, thanks to Colby, Mozza is now the only restaurant in Los Angeles approved to dry-cure salumi in-house and serve it to the public. Ta-da."

                                Given that the sculoa evolved almost directly into Chi Spacca I sometimes count them as the same thing. Is that what you were referring to, or something else?

                                I guess I was thinking more of Colby as opposed to Chi Spacca (Chi Spacca seems to be just the current name tag of what has always been a kind of place for Colby to explore his various obsessions from all of my experiences with him).

          2. Essential dining, huh? Good review.

            1 Reply
            1. re: orythedog

              Not sure. It's rapidly become my favorite restaurant in LA though. I have never tasted anything I would even call mediocre there, and I have been steadily working my way through the entire menu (I've had probably 80% of it thus far).

              It is one of those places where the food is so good that I really am not sure how much better food can actually taste.

              And really, it is a very LA kind of place. The best kind of LA dining. Lots of influence running through a traditional-ish core.

              Dinners (with drinks) tend to run about $85-$125/person, but somehow I am always happy to pay whatever they ask of me.

              Actually, the only qualm I have with them is that the pricing of the bistecca's seems off to me. They're a good 2x the price of the other most expensive items, and it's difficult to tell exactly why. My experience with the bistecca there was great, but I would rank it the lowest of all my dinners there funnily enough, and it was by far the most expensive.

              I anticipate the relatively new veal rack being absolutely prodigious though. That's the next item to be ordered. I can hardly wait!

            2. The original comment has been removed